Men’s Colony inmates lacking religious life, grand jury says
July 15, 2015
A San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury report released Tuesday states one major issue exists at the California Men’s Colony: religious life has been placed on the “back burner.”
Grand jury members inspected the prison last September and interviewed a number of staff members. The inspection report states custody staff have limited attendance at religious services, constituting a violation of the California Code of Regulations.
Also, prison chapels have leaks, asbestos and mold. Prison chaplains are unpaid and must report to mid-managers at the prison, according to the grand jury report.
“While inmates are required to give up many of their rights when entering the prison, religious expression may only be restricted when a compelling government interest has been established,” the report states. “If you are of a religious bent the three CMC chapel structures are not a fitting place for God to make his home.”
The grand jury calls on the Men’s Colony to pay chaplains and bring chapels into compliance with state building codes. Also, chaplains should report to an associate warden, not to mid-management, according to the grand jury’s recommendation.
Additionally, the grand jury says the Men’s Colony needs to fix its moldy bread problem. Corcoran State Prison currently supplies the bread at CMC.
The Men’s Colony is not required by law to respond to the grand jury, but the grand jury encourages a response.
A Men’s Colony spokesperson told the Tribune that the grand jury report contained information that was not complete or inaccurate. CMC provided the grand jury with follow-up information, but it was not included in the report, Lt. Monica Ayon said.
Ayon said the CMC chapels are currently under repair, and the state budget and regulations restrict how the California Men’s Colony compensates and communicates with its chaplains.